My wonderful wife and I received our second shots against the damn virus yesterday. Other than arms more sore than after the first shot, we are experiencing no side effects.

The fact that so many people are refusing to get vaccinated is quite frightening. The virus will continue to have hosts, to replicate, to mutate and, eventually, to become less affected by vaccines.

Five minutes on the Internet does not give anyone the knowledge of a bright person who has spent decades in medicine. Why people believe politicians before scientists is beyond me. I go back to Henry Kissinger’s famous remark, “Ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad name.” How about, “Idolizing a politician is like believing the stripper really likes you.”

Still, given the CDC guidance from yesterday that fully vaccinated people can resume travel with “low risk” I am hopeful of soon returning to some activities that we have avoided for more than a year. Maybe we’ll get out of the Arizona heat for a few days in August and head to Monterey, California for the Mecum auction.


Don’t ask me why the 1940 model year is today’s automotive topic. The idea came to me while I was perusing The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® and this picture “spoke” to me:



Given my inspiration for writing about cars began with a picture from the same book, I decided that ignoring such “motivation” would be foolish. Graham had introduced America’s first moderately priced supercharged car in 1934 and then America’s first supercharged six-cylinder car in 1936.

Graham partnered with Norman De Vaux, General Manager of Huppmobile, who had purchased the tooling for the 1936-38 Cord 810/812 Westchester sedan, to bring out the supercharged Hollywood, but with rear-wheel drive instead of the Cord front-wheel drive. Hupp also sold a similar car, the Hupp Skylark.

1940 was the last year Cadillac sold automobiles equipped with a V-16 engine. All V-16 Cadillacs had a price of over $5,000 in 1940 while no other Cadillac cost even $4,000.

Even though Cadillac showed a concept car with a V-16 motor in 2003, the beautiful if prosaically named Sixteen, we will almost certainly never again see a production 16-cylinder automobile engine. Not that many years ago, when I still had daydreams about starting a car company, I thought about a hypercar powered by a 2,500 HP V-16 engine. Ah yes, what is life without dreams?

Of course, the 1940 model year saw the introduction of one of the most significant innovations in automotive history, the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Jointly developed by Oldsmobile and Cadillac, the Hydra-Matic was first available in Oldsmobiles in May, 1939 as a 1940 model year car.

I have not been able to find out what percentage of 1940 Oldsmobiles were equipped with Hydra-Matic, but I can tell you that 30 percent of Cadillacs had it in 1941, the first model year it was available in the Caddy. I can also tell you that in the truncated 1942 model year, almost half of all Oldsmobiles had Hydra-Matic.

I will once again offer my opinion that in the US the traditional manual transmission is already dead on its feet, but no one has had the decency to knock it over and to give it a proper burial. More new electric vehicles are sold here than vehicles with standard manuals, and the share of electrics has plateaued, at least for now.

Yes, Cadillac is offering a manual in its Blackwing cars, but in my opinion that’s strictly to appeal to those who buy German cars, a segment of the market that still has a double-digit percentage of drivers who want a manual. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Of course, the clouds of war were already visible in the US by 1940. It was in that year that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed General Motors President William Knudsen as Chairman of the Office of Production Management and member of the National Defense Advisory Commission. Knudsen, who was born in Denmark, served with distinction for the whopping salary of $1 a year.

In January 1942, Knudsen received a commission as a lieutenant general in the US Army, the only civilian ever to join the army at such a high initial rank, and appointed as Director of Production, Office of the Under Secretary of War. In that capacity, he worked as a consultant and a troubleshooter for the War Department.










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The Countdown Continues

17 days until my wonderful wife and I receive our second vaccination against the damn virus, 31 days until “full immunity.” As I fully understand, at our age that time will fly by.

We cannot wait to attend car shows and to visit car museums, to dine inside at restaurants, to visit antique shops. Those activities are really all we’ve missed as we are not partiers nor did we travel multiple times a year. I have mentioned to my wonderful wife that when we are “fully immune” I would like to go back to the last restaurant where we dined indoors before all hell broke loose, an IHOP in Sun City, Arizona. Remember, we were vacationing here last year at this time to attend the Mecum auction.

I hoped, but did not expect to be living here at the time of this year’s Mecum auction. I certainly never expected to be here and be unable to attend. No one can consistently predict the future with any degree of accuracy.



I keep thinking about this car, a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk that was offered on Bring A Trailer back in 2018. It looks like a 1964 model given the landau roof, but it doesn’t have to be from that year. For me, I differentiate the years by the rear deck molding or lack thereof.

IF I ever acquire one I would like to have it painted green, although a little darker than this one, and would like to fit it with wire wheels. Granted that I have never seen this car in person, but other than one I saw at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this is the nicest Gran Turismo Hawk I have ever seen. For me, dark exterior colors muddle the lines and I am not a fan of white cars, either. Here is a photo I recently “published” of a 1962 model at the Mecum auction in Arizona last year:



Note the rear deck molding is basically all metal; that is how the ’62s were outfitted. For 1963, the bottom of the molding had a black strip so “Studebaker Hawk” stood out. For 1964, the molding was removed as the deck stamping was finally changed from the original used since 1956. For the ’64s, “Studebaker Hawk” was shown as a badge in stainless or some other “chrome-like” metal against the “plain” rear deck.

If space for another car were not an obstacle, one reason I would hesitate to buy one of these is service. I am certainly not qualified to fix one myself–my acquisition of a service manual for all 1959-64 Studebakers notwithstanding–and I have little idea what shop would be qualified to work on the car. I have read about one shop that specializes in working on “classic” cars located at the Scottsdale Airpark although the name eludes me for the moment. (Damn advancing age!)

Any thoughts or opinions you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.








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Pi(e) Day

Today’s date, of course, is 3/14. I gather that some people “celebrate” today as Pi Day. You know; Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Let’s see, how many digits do I still remember? 3.14159265358979323846…that’s all I remember and the number of Pi digits I know hasn’t changed since high school.

Three divided by 14 is also an interesting number: .214285714285714285714285714, ad infinitum. You see, I spent a lot of time with the first electronic calculator I ever owned, which my father purchased for me from the adding machine shop next to his gas station. This was in the early 1970s. I used that calculator to compute all kinds of baseball, football and basketball statistics. I guess that wasn’t a waste of time, after all.

I’d actually rather eat a piece of pie than to discuss Pi, but I seldom do either. Of course, the formula to calculate the displacement of an engine uses Pi; actually, it uses Pi divided by 4. The full formula is the square of the bore times the stroke times Pi/4 (which is about .7854) times the number of cylinders. An eight-cylinder engine with a 4-inch bore and 3.125 inch stroke (three and an eighth inches) has a displacement of 314 cubic inches. Actually, that displacement calculates as exactly 100 times Pi, so it would be 314.159265359 cubic inches.


Other than a sore upper arm, which has pretty much dissipated by now, I had no side effects from my first damn virus vaccine. I’m knocking on my head to simulate knocking on wood. Maybe it’s no simulation…


On this day in 1962 a car like this was the 75 millionth vehicle produced by General Motors:


See the source image


From Barrett-Jackson this is a picture of a 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible. Yes, by this time Pontiac bodies resembled Buick bodies which resembled Oldsmobile bodies. Still, some of the trim and accoutrements were different.

Model year 1962 marked the beginning of Pontiac’s eight-year stint as the third most popular make in the US (albeit a distant third), behind only Chevrolet and Ford. Note that this was two years before the introduction of the GTO.

Pontiac built 21,582 Bonneville convertibles in 1962, which were priced at $3,570. It was their second most expensive model that year; the Bonneville Safari wagon cost $3,624.

Of course, I think these cars are fantastic. The legendary 421 Super Duty was available on Pontiac cars in 1962 although I think they were only available on the Catalina and the Grand Prix. (Hey, Bill Stephens, can you help me out?) These engines were officially rated at 405 HP/425 LB-FT of torque, but many “in the know” think those figures are conservative.

Although at present I have absolutely no place to store another car, the thought of buying a car from a defunct American make is beginning to percolate in (what’s left of) my brain. Hey, I could take my time in getting the car through the “iterations of repairs” (quoting John Kraman from his remarks to me last year about what it would take to get an older car to the state of being reliable) since we already have a Grocery Car/Taxi in the 2015 Cadillac ATS.

Oh damn, reality is starting creep back in…









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K Squared Was Right

First, a detour…yesterday my wonderful wife was able to make both vaccine appointments for herself with a national pharmacy chain. Ironically, her first appointment was to be later this morning. Of course, my first vaccine appointment was earlier this morning.

We went to State Farm Stadium for my appointment and as K Squared (our realtor) predicted, my wonderful wife was vaccinated as well despite not having an appointment. We both received the Pfizer vaccine and our next appointments, three weeks hence, have already been made. Talk about an early appointment, try 3:20 AM. We don’t care, really.

I am very glad we are five weeks away from “max immunity,” but still disappointed that so many people believe lies and disinformation about the vaccine and won’t take the shot(s). Ignorance is not bliss, it’s dangerous. Get Vaccinated!



This piece from Corvette Blogger is very interesting to me. It is a list of the fastest General Motors cars in the history of the Car and Driver Lightning Lap.


1. 2019 Corvette ZR1 2:39.5
2. 2015 Corvette Z06 (Z07) 2:44.6
3. 6th-Gen Camaro ZL1 1LE 2:45.0
4. 2017 Corvette Grand Sport (Z07) 2:47.1
5. 2020 Corvette Z51 2:49.0
6. 2017 Camaro ZL1 2:50.1
7. C6 Corvette ZR1   2:50.7
8. 2015 Camaro Z28 2:50.9
9. 2011 Corvette Z06 (Z07) 2:53.5
10. 2014 Corvette Z51 2:53.8


Some notes:

The 2019 ZR1 has the fourth fastest lap among all 281 cars ever tested. The three cars ahead are/were WAY more expensive.

The #2 GM car is, of course, identical to mine except for the year. Oh yes, I’ve had some intake and exhaust mods done to add some power.

The time for the #3 car was with the automatic transmission because it was nearly a second faster than the lap recorded with the manual.


Once again, while the car snobs may disagree, dollar for dollar the modern Corvette is the best performance car in the world. Long live the Corvette!








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